The jelly-filled Paczki (pronounced POONCH-key) came about in the Middle Ages when Polish cooks needed to use up butter, sugar and fruit before Lent. Today, paczhis are a tradition in cities with strong Polish heritage, like Hamtramck, in southeast Michigan. Hamtramck was settled primarily by Polish immigrants in the early 1900s. Today, only 20 percent of residents claim Polish ancestry, but a strong heritage remains.
Each year, bakers spend a night rolling dough into balls, injecting them with traditional prune or newer raspberry, lemon or cream filling, and dusting the finished doughnuts with sugar. Before sunrise on Paczki Day, residents line up outside their local bakeries for a taste of the once-a-year doughnuts.
—By Samantha Cleaver